Welcome back for Round 2 of The Listening Chaos. Lots of great music to talk about this month, so I’ll skip the preamble and get right to it…
February’s Albums of the Month
Bosque – Beyond (Dunkelheit Produktionen)
Even though it’s only the beginning of March, Portugal’s Bosque may have sewn up the ‘Most Depressing Metal Album of 2016’ award with Beyond. The album’s three epic tracks (the shortest of which clocks in at 13:04) are a perfect hybrid of funeral doom and depressive black metal, with fuzzy, melodic riffs that somehow manage to sound almost equally bleak and majestic. The production here is strictly lo-fi, a particularly effective choice in terms of the vocals, which are clean, mournful, and buried so far down in the mix that they’re barely audible–think Burzum played at quarter speed, and you’ll have a pretty good sense of the overall vibe of the album. This is really excellent stuff.
Eight Bells – Landless (Battleground Records)
I absolutely loved the first Eight Bells record, The Captain’s Daughter, which was an interesting mix of genre-hopping, mostly instrumental tracks. It took a little longer to wrap my head around Landless, which finds the Portland-based all-female trio settling into more of a progressive doom/sludge mode and adding vocals to every track, but it’s every bit as good as their debut. Muscially, the band has gotten particularly good at using space in their arrangements, and the heavy parts absolutely crush, which is unsurprising given that the album was produced by Billy Anderson, who’s probably best known for his work on Sleep’s Dopesmoker. Vocally, the actually remind me a bit of SubRosa (who I totally love)—reedy and a touch flat, but well-suited to the music. Give this one a few spins and let it grow on you.
Khthoniik Cerviiks – SeroLogiikal Scars (Vertex of Dementiia) (Iron Bonehead)
Every review I’ve seen of Khthoniik Cerviiks’s debut full-length has mentioned Voivod, and the comparison is apt. SeroLogiikal Scars (Vertex of Dementiia) is a highly enjoyable slice of sci-fi infused, batshit crazy death metal that, in spite of the obvious Voivod influence, doesn’t really sound like anything else out there right now. Don’t let the strange spelling choices and unpronounceable band member names (Okkhulus Siirs, Ohourobohortiik Ssphäross, and Khraâl Vri*ïl) dissuade you from giving this a listen or three. With its complex, atonal riffing, completely unhinged drumming, and non-linear song structures, this is a challenging but rewarding album that I expect will end up featuring on a lot of year-end best-of lists.
Magrudergrind – II (Relapse)
It’s been six years since Magrudergrind last released new music, so to say that I was anxiously anticipating this record would be something of an understatement, and it does not disappoint. Once again produced by Kurt Ballou, II is an absolutely furious slab of grind—the aural equivalent of being hit in the face with a shovel for the entirety of its 15 song, 23-minute run time. Somebody please bring these guys to Indy.
Wake – Sowing the Seeds of a Worthless Tomorrow (Nerve Altar)
More feral-sounding grind? Yes please! I wasn’t familiar with Calgary’s Wake before this album (which is apparently their third full-length), but Sowing the Seeds of a Worthless Tomorrow manages to rival Magrudergrind both in terms of musical ferocity and sheer pissed-the-fuck-off-ness. If you dig grind at all, track this one down ASAP.
Aluk Todolo – Voix (The Ajna Offensive)
Avant-garde instrumental black(ish) metal. If you’ve ever thought ‘Hey, Krallice would be fantastic if it weren’t for the vocals,’ this is the album for you.
Obscura – Akróasis (Relapse)
What I always find remarkable about Obscura is how warm and organic their records sound. Sure, their kick drums are probably triggerd within an inch of their lives, but it still sounds like it’s being played by real musicians (as opposed to the heavily-processed sound of your average Unique Leader release). I don’t think this record is quite as good as their last one, Omnivium, but it’s better than 99% of the tech-death out there.
The Best of the Rest
Altarage – Nihl (Iron Bonehead)
Ecferus – Pangaea (I, Voidhanger)
LVTHN – Eradication of Nescience (Fallen Empire)
Ritual Chamber – Obscurations (To Feast on the Seraphim) (Profound Lore)